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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 324 March 2017 > READY TO RULE

READY TO RULE

In a sector more savage than the stock exchange, Honda’s technophobic and ageing Fireblade was in need of some desperate attention. Thankfully, it’s been given the long-awaited treatment it deserves.

Honda’s pulled off something truly brilliant here, and it’s going to cause a ruckus in the litre bike sector. To be fair, it’s been long enough in the pipeline.

But the big question is: has Honda’s 13th generation Blade been worth the wait?

Undeniably so, is my considered opinion after a day spent flogging the guts out of the standard CBR1 000RR and higher spec SP model around a warm and winding Portimao race circuit.

It all kicked off with a chance to swing a leg over the base model Honda, which packs 189bhp, just like its fancier and costlier SP-version sibling (and the even more exotic SP2 which won’t be with us till May).

Fundamentally, the RR and SP share the same motor, frame, swingarm and mostly the same fancy electronics which have largely being transferred over from the GP-inspired RC2 13V-S. Features such as nine-stage traction control, five different power modes (two of them customisable) and three levels of engine braking are common on both models, along with a super slick quick shifter, shift-assist clutch and fancy TFT dash to keep tabs on your setup. So you’re probably wondering why the base model’s around £4k cheaper than the SP. Well, there are several differences and most were immediately visible when I gave the bike a once over.

Let’s start with the suspension, which is of the Kayaba variety and requires a screwdriver to twiddle its many adjusters – unlike the electronically mastered Ohlins S-EC semiactive package on the SP. And then there’s the brakes; T okico’s the choice of anchors on the RR, while the SP gets Brembos. Not so obvious to the eye is the titanium fuel tank on the SP, which is made of steel on the RR and plonks another 1.3kg onto the model’s still featherweight mass of just 196kg (wet).

And there’s also the lack of an auto-blipper, which is standard on the pricier model. Plus there’s a 1kg lighter lithium battery on the SP, whereas the RR slums it with a traditional lead-type. Oh, and you can’t forget the non-tricolour HRC paint schemes of the RR, which comes in a choice of Victory Red or Matt Ballistic Black Metallic.

Point and shoot. You only

have to think where you want the SP to go and it willingly obliges.

SIZE MATTERS

From a physical point of view, all of the new models are exactly the same and it hit me instantly how much sleeker the RR felt when I hopped on board. The old Blade was no lard arse, but the new one felt like it had been toned up.

The tank was narrower, along with the fairings and saddle; done to save weight and enhance aerodynamics. Still, the ’bars felt welcoming and familiar, and the sporty pegs didn’t require a year’s worth of yoga before I could reach the required angle. The Honda felt plentifully spacious. What was less familiar was the abundance of buttons on the bike’s clip-ons. Let’s not pretend the preceding Blade wasn’t a technophobe, because it was, but the same can’t be said about this new jobby. Turning the key brought the full colour TFT dash to life, and it was intuitive to work through the bike’s riding modes and setup.

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Fast Bikes is home to the best sportsbike tests on the planet and is packed with new bike launches, technical insight, hardcore action, masterclasses, racing, reviews and loads more.
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